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Conowing Dam Maryland Photography

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Conowingo Dam Md. Photography

Photo By Jimmy Cavallo. Image of Pamela Goodyer in there somewhere. 🙂

INFO - PHOTO MAGAZINE EXTRA - photography magazine extra, photography, where to do, how to do, travel photography, Pam Goodyer

Photography Information:

A 400mm lens at this location will make you the little fish in the big pond. 400mm is sufficient but the bigger, the better here. You should rent a lens if you do not have the equipment that you need. The Photo Center in Brick, N.J. has good rental prices if your from that area. They will rent you the lens you need along with the tripod that holds the larger lenses.

On a sunny day, you will shoot in shutter priority at 1/1200th of a second.  These eagles are moving!! There are other ways to shoot, but that is the easiest way for the beginner. Use ISO 100 on sunny days with the high shutter speed. On the cloudy days, you can pop your ISO up to 400 or 800 as needed. Never go over 800 ISO to avoid grain. Keep your shutter speed at a minimum of 1/1000th for this location. Just about every picture you see on this page is shot at 1/1000th sec. You can go lower to show some movement in the wings. You shouldn’t go any lower than 1/500th sec.

TIP: You can easily overexpose the white parts of the eagles on the sunny days. We use exposure compensation to go down one stop -1 to keep this from happening.


  • During November through the beginning of January. Mid-November is known to be peak Eagle time.
  • Bring chairs. You will be waiting for the action to happen.
  • Check on the Conowingo Dam Release Schedule- See when the gates open and fish flood. 1-888-457-4076.
  • TIP: Get there around 6:30 a.m. if you want up front parking on the weekends.  It doesn’t matter which spot you choose there are pros and cons to each location. I like to be near my truck especially on the days when it gets really cold. Only Nature knows which section will get the most activity that day. You can look at which section of the dam will open and where the water will come through. That pretty much dictates where the birds will fly. Call the number above to find out.

The Conowingo Dam is one of the largest hydroelectric dams in Conowingo, Maryland.  The eagles flock to the dam every year in the Fall sometimes reaching as many as 100 plus eagles in one small location. Photographers come from all over during this season to photograph the action of the eagles feeding on the fish that flow through the dam.  As far as we know, it is one of the best eagle photography locations in the lower 48.

Hundreds of eagles are attracted to the location due to a large amount of fish that come through the dam when it opens. When the sirens go off advising that the dam will soon open you often hear the photographers cheering since it is the signal that the action is about to happen.  On many occasions, you will hear photographers yell things such as “incoming” to let the other photographer know an eagle is about to approach. The action is what we call nature at its best.  The eagles circle around looking down at the waters spotting their fish. When an eagle dives they hang their claws down, swoop down and stretch their claws out and grab a fish.  After this, the action starts. All of the other birds in the area will try to steal the fish from the eagle.  Sometimes you will even see two birds attached to one fish and swing around in a battle for the meal.

When the eagles catch a smaller fish, they will fly and eat the fish as seen in the image above with the two eagles eating at the same time.  Extra Eyes Photo Tours runs a tour here every year the week before Thanksgiving which is prime time for action.  You can see the information here.

There are over a hundred other birds that have been documented to migrate here, but the eagle action is the focal point.

Shutter Priority Mode is used when our main priority is getting the right shutter speed. Shutter speed controls how fast the shutter opens and closes and is responsible for stopping action and getting crystal clear images when our subjects are moving. To read the basics of shutter priority Go to the Shutter Speed Page.

Shutter speed is used to get the milky water look on moving waters but the best way to do it is to also control your aperture and your shutter which is done in Manual mode. You can read about How to Shoot Waterfall Photography here.

During the day you would also need a neutral density filter when trying to blur the moving waters. Go to the Neutral Density Filter page and read about how to use them.

Aperture Priority Mode is used when our main priority is controlling the depth of field. It is often used for macro or close-up photography on things such as flowers so we can blur the background. It is used in school class photos when we focus on the first row and we want the 3rd row to also be in focus.  If you are not familiar with shooting in aperture priority you can read our Aperture Priority Page here.

Shooting in manual mode is a little more difficult. You will have to adjust your shutter speed and your aperture instead of only setting one and letting the camera do the other. It is used for waterfall photography, night photography, portrait photography and a few other things.

You can read more details about waterfall photography here. You can read about night photography here. They both explain the basics of shooting in manual mode.

Shooting night sky photography is actually very simple. It may appear to be complicated at first glance but if you read our section on Dark Sky Photography you can see how it is not as overwhelming as you would think.

There is also some good information that will be useful on our Dark Sky Photography Information page.

Find a workshop near you. Go to our Photography Workshops page and see if there is something for you. 

Shooting waterfall and milky waters photography require a tripod and some knowledge in shooting in manual mode. We have simplified it for you and you can read all about blurring waters here on our Waterfall Photography page.  You may need a neutral density filter for daytime waterfall photography and you can visit our page on Neutral Density Filters here.

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Almost every single image in Photography Magazine Extra is edited with a topaz filter. We are an affiliate and can offer you a 30-day Free Trial of Topaz Filters if you go to our Topaz Filters Review page. No credit card is required.

Our Staff Does not go anywhere without out Think Tank Camera Bags. We have reviewed the bags for you on our Think Tank Camera Bag Review page You can go to their site and purchase directly from them now by clicking this link: Think Tank Camera Bags

Photography Magazine Extra Pam Goodyer

Park Information:

The Conowingo Dam (also Conowingo Hydroelectric Plant, Conowingo Hydroelectric Station) is a large hydroelectric dam in the lower Susquehanna River near the town of Conowingo, Maryland. Conowingo Road, Conowingo, Maryland.

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